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Reader Exchange

Make scarves to keep soldiers cool

Published May 12, 2007


As the weather grows warmer in Florida, temperatures are also heating up in Iraq. Knitters who had been making headbands to keep the heads of U.S. soldiers warm this winter may want a change of pace as the seasons shift. How about a project that will help keep the desert heat at bay instead?

Once again we thank reader Donna Kistel for her suggestion, this time in the form of a pattern for cool scarves. The material you'll need and instructions:

• Any 100 percent cotton fabric in tans, khakis or grays; no polyester, as it will melt on the skin if ignited.

• Polyacrylamide crystals, available under many brand names, locally at Lowe's under the name Soil Moist Granules. This nontoxic polymer holds up to 400 times its weight in water; a pound of it can store up to 48 gallons of water.

• Cut a 4-inch by 44-inch fabric strip for each scarf. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together.

• Using a medium straight stitch, sew a 1/2-inch seam along the raw edges, leaving a 3-inch opening outside of the casing area for turning and filling. Trim corners; turn and press.

• With the 3-inch opening at one end, stitch across the scarf 14 1/2 inches from the opposite scarf end.

• Holding the opening of the scarf upright, use a teaspoon to pour the crystals into the casing.

• Stitch across the scarf 14 1/2 inches from the upper end to close the casing, pushing the crystals to the far end of the casing, away from the needle.

• Hand whipstitch or machine edgestitch the opening closed.

Soldiers will soak the casing or the entire scarf in cool water for 15 or 20 minutes, or until the crystals turn to gel. The cool scarf will absorb more than 200 percent of its weight in water.

Tied around the neck or worn as a headband, the cool scarf provides all-day relief from the heat through evaporation.

Finished scarves can be mailed to Operation Mom, c/o Nancy Lamb, 609 S Montgomery Ave., DeLand, FL 32720, or to Special Kindness in Packages SKIP, c/o Tracy Stiles, 16 Appleby St., Brockton, MA 02302.

Getting in touch with our roots is as much fun as it is enlightening. Diane Musto of Palm Harbor has been getting in touch with her Danish heritage, so she is looking for an aebleskiver pan in which to make Danish "doughnuts."

The utensil Diane needs is very heavy, made of cast iron, with a skirt that sits on the stove burner. They are generally fairly expensive, so Diane, who is a retiree watching her pennies, hopes that a Danish cook who has sworn off making doughnuts might be willing to pass an aebleskiver her way. Diane can be reached at (727) 787-0255 or at

Mary Lyons is trying to locate the two-piece charging unit for the original gray Roomba (robotic) vacuum. Her unit has been misplaced. Mary would like to give the Roomba to her sister, who can no longer push a typical vacuum cleaner. But with no way to recharge the machine, that idea will have to be abandoned. A power unit that has lost its Roomba is just the ticket. Please call (352) 796-8366 if you know of one.

Mildred O'Brien of St. Petersburg would love to give her issues of Bon Appetit, from January 1985 through December 2005, to anyone who will pick them up. Please call (727) 345-4884.

Barbara Wright of Largo hopes to tap into readers' DVD expertise. The good news is that the Wrights' daughter preserved the cherished family movies on DVD. The bad news: The Wrights can't get that DVD to play - on either of their two DVD players. They have tried two different copies of their daughter's DVD, with the same result. Each time they do so, the screen signals that the DVD is dirty or damaged, even though it played perfectly on the machines of others.

Obviously, what we have here are DVD players intent on consigning this family's memories to the blacklist of history. Or is there, perhaps, a more scientific explanation? (The staff, somewhat challenged electronically, rather likes the demonic rationale, but is open to more enlightened ideas.)

If you can help solve this DVD glitch, please contact the Wrights at (727) 393-5039.

Sage Chaney needs to use a Mac laptop computer for at least 2 1/2 months this summer to work on the cookbook she is writing. It was done in Pages. The Mac needs to be at least a G-4, 5 megs or better, 512 memory (in addition to the OS), DVD drive, 32 meg video player card, and it must accommodate OS 10.4 (which Sage owns).

She would be grateful to borrow such a Mac and, when her book is completed, she would gladly pass it along to the "Adopt a Family" program at the Haven for battered women and children. Please call (727) 536-8897.

Send requests to Reader Exchange, Floridian, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731 or e-mail Requests will be accepted only by mail or e-mail. This is an exchange column, so we will not run items that are for sale. Readers must agree to publication of phone numbers, including area code.


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[Last modified May 11, 2007, 13:15:00]

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